Scotch Whisky Tasting with ESL Students

posted in: Bavaria, Europe, Germany | 3
Good¬† Sunday to you! You may remember that I teach English as a Second Language (ESL) here in Germany. Last year I picked up a contract to teach ESL on the local U.S. Army post. The students are family members of U.S. Soldiers and other people involved in running the base, such as locals who work in the commissary and so forth. The group is as diverse as you can imagine! I have students from Central and South America all the way to Africa. A lot of the women are here with their children while their husbands are deployed to Afghanistan. Given their unique situations and varying levels of English proficiency, the group was a challenge for me. However, it’s turned out to be the most fun group ever! Last week I conducted a workshop where I took the group to a local gourmet shop downtown. The shops name is Vom Fass, which translates to On Tap in English. It’s a franchise location of a larger chain, and they even have locations in the USA. The shop sells beautiful olive oils from many countries, and some of the oils are flavored with lemon, chili peppers and so on. They also have a wide selection of vinegars from basic stuff to the real-deal balsamic from Italy and those flavored with fruit and wine. You can also find wines, liqueurs and even Scotch whisky in the cask there. If it sounds like a commercial, then my mission is accomplished. I LOVE this place! Not only are the products right up my alley, the two German women who run the place are wonderful. They treat everyone like treasures and shopping there is always a treat. They offer whisky tastings a couple of times a year as well. They suggested to me that they could present a whisky tasting to my group in English, which was perfect for us! So we set up a presentation for last Wednesday evening. Here are some shots I made while waiting for my students to show up: As is the case most of the time, not everyone showed up who’d promised to be there. In fact, only one of my students, Carmela, came that evening, but she brought along her husband and brother-in-law.

The owners, Catharina and Silvia, set up a nice table with some baguette slices and water for us (they are the ones in black shown here):

Catharina, a native German, had done her homework and presented the process and history of whisky-making to us with nary a mistake in her English:

She also provided me with this photo opp: 

Of course we had to toast the first of the three whisky samples she gave us. Carmela’s brother-in-law Gibran is here on the left, (short!) Carmela is in the middle. You can see Carmela’s husband Ivan’s hand and mine in the lower left corner:

We sampled a 3-year-old whisky, the youngest they are allowed to sell it in Scotland. We also got to try a 15-year-old and a 19-year-old whisky as well:


Along the way we learned how to enjoy whisky, which is not to drink it cold or on the rocks because it mutes the flavors. We learned how to add a few drops of purified water to bring out certain qualities of the whisky. We also learned what shape of glass is best and how to warm it in our hands to further enjoy the qualities of it. read more